There is growing concern that a skin-disfiguring parasite that is not common to America might actually be becoming an endemic right across the border from Missouri.

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Most of us in the United States have never heard of Leishmaniasis. The CDC explains why saying it "is a parasitic disease that is found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe".  Or, at least that's where this nasty parasite is supposed to reside.

An alarming new report from Health.com says that this disfiguring skin parasite may have already reached endemic levels in Oklahoma and Texas. They report that as many as 1,200 cases have been discovered in the United States now. Terrifying.

What caused a skin-disfiguring parasite common to the tropics to invade the United States?

The Health.com report says "the biggest concern in the U.S. is infected sandflies". But, they believe that most cases that are now near Missouri in states like Oklahoma likely were infected during international travel.

How can you avoid this skin-disfiguring parasite?

Know where sandflies are and avoid them. NPR says that you'll now find these little critters mainly in the southern states. But, a milder than normal winter in Missouri might allow bugs like this to survive more frequently than when bitterly cold weather keeps them at bay. Some, like the writer of the NPR article, are blaming this new parasite phenomenon on climate change.

No matter where the blame lies, this is one parasite you don't want to see make the trip over the border into Missouri.

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